Some of the dogs trained by Canine Detection Research Institute as Bomb-sniffing dogs are now being retrained to take on a new and growing threat to Florida’s Ecosystem the Burmese pythons in Florida’s Everglades National Park. Python’s have been a growing problem for almost 10 years. The size and space of the Everglades and the supply of food with no natural predators has allowed these snakes to grow to massive size. Over the years the snakes have been seen to eat everything from full grown alligators to panthers. While there is little hope of eradicating this invasive non native species there is hope that their numbers can be kept under control with the use of detection dogs. The dogs can pick up the scent of the snake pointing them out to their handlers who can then deal with the snake.
The dogs are members of “EcoDogs,” a three-year-old collaboration at Alabama’s Auburn University between the science departments and the school’s Canine Detection Research Institute, which trains dogs to detect explosives. The dogs being chosen for this program are the ones who have failed out of bomb detection work not because they couldn’t scent but because they were too excited when they found the scent and in the field could trigger the bomb that they are finding to go off. Good thing for these dogs is that their new job isn’t as volatile as their old assignment and they can get as excited as they would like out in the open Everglades. Actually it is a necessary part of their new job.
The dogs that do well on Python duty are those who are so motivated by doing their job all else is secondary. They want to work to please their handler reward or no reward. They aren’t necessarily the smartest dogs that graduate out of the school but they are just as driven and want to work.